Security

Why clients require standalone antispyware licenses

Erik Eckel believes that consultants have a responsibility to educate their clients about why it's important to license, install, and maintain active antispyware programs on their workstations.

 Convincing clients they require business-grade antivirus software often proves challenging; selling clients licensed antispyware licenses is an even taller order, but it shouldn't be. Fully licensed antispyware software -- antimalware that provides active real-time protection against a variety of complex and ever-varying threats -- is possibly the easiest, most cost-effective investment businesses and organizations can make.

West Coast Labs, an independent testing entity, noted in its January 2010 Anti-malware Technology Report that "malware attack vectors have multiplied and the points of attack are now more specifically targeted." The threats to corporate and nonprofit networks are significant. Also, the increasing sophistication of phishing attacks and the success of fake antimalware Trojan infections are encouraging antimalware producers.

A single infection can corrupt Windows installations so thoroughly that hundreds of dollars in recovery, repair, or reinstallation services may be required. Multiply the costs for dozens of systems, and it quickly becomes apparent that the expense of standalone antispyware software more than pays for itself.

Organizations shouldn't place much confidence in perimeter-based solutions or antivirus apps that include antispyware protection; our consultancy simply sees too many infections bypass such solutions. These options are a helpful complement to a larger comprehensive site-wide security strategy, but clients should not view them as the sole answers to growing malware issues.

Gateway-based solutions, such as subscription services installed on firewalls, provide no protection against vulnerabilities when mobile employees take their laptops home or on the road. Antivirus apps that include antispyware coverage are better because at least the software travels with machines when taken offsite. But the complexity of malware attacks makes it difficult for a single application to effectively combat viruses and spyware.

You should work to help clients understand the need to license, install, and maintain active antispyware programs on all of their workstations. If common sense fails (the costs of downtime, disruption, potential data loss, and recovery from just a few systems a year more than offsets the licensing expense), I like to provide them with statistics. CompTIA estimates that the average spyware infection requires 20 hours to repair (CompTIA membership is required to the read the report). The non-profit trade association states spyware infections cost SMBs more than $8,000 annually; even worse, those cost estimates don't include lost sales or expenses arising from system downtime. Unlike enterprise environments, most SMBs are critically dependent upon their systems to maintain business operations; they can't just pull another unit off the shelf and redeploy a disk image from an archive.

I believe consultants have a responsibility to do more than just install or deploy solutions clients request -- they should also educate clients about best practices and methods that enable running their businesses more smoothly and effectively. Consider licensing and deploying proven antispyware from providers such as Malwarebytes, Sunbelt Software, and SUPERAntiSpyware. You can save your client unnecessary repair costs and the troubles that arise when critical systems become unavailable due to infection or corruption, as well as save your consultancy from getting as many unpredictable and disruptive crisis calls.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

2 comments
TECHchap
TECHchap

I refer to Erik Eckel's article on the importance of standalone malware protection. It is interesting to note that IT security has graduated from antivirus to endpoint protection. But standalone malware protection is interesting. Are there any good product recommendations among the standalone products available today.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I've had good experiences with the three brands I mentioned. What amazes me is the number of clients my office inherits who've had previous IT "consultants" install personal versions of free antispyware tools. Those applications don't provide effective real-time protection. That's why I advocate professional, licensed versions (which IT consultants are obligated to provide anyway, to abide by most EULAs).

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